When Sam asked me to cook “rice and beans”, I immediately thought of Mexican cooking. The rice and bean dish is something I always associated with Mexican food. But, apparently, it’s much bigger than that. Rice and beans are cooked together all over South America. The Cubans have their arroz moro, there’s gallo pinto in Costa Rica and arroz con gandules in Puerto Rico. In Europe, the Portuguese have their feijoada and they brought the dish with them to all the places they colonized including Brazil and Mozambique. In North America, there’s the Creole red beans and rice. In Asia, Korea has its kongbap while Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has its version of feijoada.
How can the rice and beans combination be so popular? It’s peasant fare. Rice and beans are filling and cheaper than meat and seafood. For us rice eaters, adding beans to our daily rice has an added nutritional value because beans are much richer in protein than rice. This rice and beans dish that I cooked for Sam is something that I’d like to think of as essentially Southeast Asian — subtly spiced with garlic and ginger, and cooked in coconut milk.
Recipe: Rice and beans in coconut milk
- 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp. of grated ginger
- 1 tbsp. of palm oil
- 2 c. of rice (I used Basmati but you can use almost any variety), rinsed and drained
- 1 to 2 c. of cooked beans, any variety (the amount depending on the rice to beans ratio that you prefer)
- 3 to 4 c. of coconut milk (different rice varieties require varying amounts of liquid to cook)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fried shallots, optional
- Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Saute the garlic and ginger just until fragrant.
- Pour the rice into the rice cooker. Add the beans and the sautéed garlic and ginger with the oil.
- Pour in the coconut milk. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir a few times. Cook.
- When the rice is done, fluff up with a fork to separate the grains.
- Top the rice with fried shallots. It’s optional but recommended. Serve the rice hot.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 3